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Hi There! I’m Lacey Okonski

Come Explore

Thanks for visiting! Explore my site to learn more about me, my background and what I have to offer. If you have questions or would like to discuss an opportunity to work together, feel free to get in touch.

Home: Welcome


I am a cognitive scientist who is interested in language, mind, and embodied cognition.  My research utilizes quantitative and qualitative methodologies. I hold a PhD in Cognitive Psychology and have extensive experience with human research participants. My area of expertise is interdisciplinary but I often work within Cognitive Psychology and Linguistics Departments or in UX/EdTech roles.

Home: About Me
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My Experience

Roles & Responsibilities

May, 2019-present

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Umeå University

As a Postdoctoral Researcher in Umeå, I am developing a digital tool for ESL teachers to employ which systematically introduces prepositions, notably problematic even for advanced speakers. This project is jointly funded by The Department of Language Studies and HumLab (a technical environment specifically for digital humanities).


Fulbright Fellowship, Federal University of Minas Gerais

Funded by Fulbright, I was able to conduct research centered in Belo Horizonte, Brazil and also to work with indigenous groups in remote areas. The project is titled,

"In the Womb of the Amazon/No Ventre da Floresta Amazôniqa:

A Cross-Linguistic Comparison of Mother Earth Metaphors in the US and Brazil"

June 2015 - present

Subject Matter Expert in Statistics, Acrobatiq

Work Funded by Bill & Melinda Gates. Design of dynamic media elements and adaptive assessments for a web-based Probability and Statistics course. I also assist with content issues, questions or concerns raised by users on a regular basis.


Psycholinguistic & Creative Coordinator

  • Fundamentally redesigned a large online ESL curriculum. Designed the lexicon using corpus data and designed online vocabulary tool to streamline lesson development. 

  • Redesigned/launched product that attracted $65M in additional Series D funding, creating 1100+ multimedia lessons for use by 100k+ Latin American students 

  • Improved educational practices utilizing empirically based insights 

  • Complete oversight of online video series with a budget of $500,000. Supervised all aspects of the creative development process, script development, filming and post production. 

  • Defined, coordinated, and communicated organizational goals at all levels, including corporate, director, team leader, and lesson developer level. Responsible for interviewing and hiring 25 team members. 

Home: Experience

My Projects

My portfolio showcases a handful of my most recent projects. Take a look to get a sense of my skills, experience and approach. To learn more about a specific project, feel free to contact me directly.

Metaphor Analysis

Magnifying Glass

Cognitive Poetics

Metaphor in Motion title pic.jpg

Climate Communications

Mother Earth.jpg
Home: Projects


Peer Reviewed Literature

Performing Metaphorical Creativity across Modes and Contexts

(Eds. L. Hildago-Downing & B. Kraljev) 

Metaphor in multimodal creativity


Journal of Pragmatics

Diving into the Wreck: Can people resist allegorical meaning?




Gonna be on my fucking period in Boomtown, souuuunndd thanks Mother Nature: Using twitter to find multimodal creativity and embodied instant metaphors

In Expressive Minds and Artistic Creations: Studies in Cognitive Poetics

(Ed. S. Csabi) 

Cognitive Poetics in Allegorical Experience


Metaphor and the Social World


Crazy, creative metaphors: Crazy metaphorical mind?

Lodz Papers in Pragmatics


Inferring pragmatic messages from metaphor


Art is the sex of the imagination: Explaining the meanings of  XYZ metaphors


Allegory studies: Contemporary perspectives

(Ed. V. Briliak)

Allegory and bodily imagination

In Press

Dance Data, Cognition, and Multimodal Communication (Eds. C. Fernendez, V. Evola, & C. Ribeiro)  

Understanding non-verbal metaphor: A cognitive approach to metaphor in dance

in press

Home: Volunteer Work
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Learning and Living

University of California, Santa Cruz

Department of Psychology, Cognitive Area

 “Diving into the wreck: Embodied experience in the interpretation of allegory”


University of California, Santa Cruz

Department of Psychology, Cognitive Area
“Does metaphor influence thought? Linguistic relativity in a cross-linguistic context”


University of Central Florida

Department of Psychology
Research Assistant, Human Computer Interaction Lab

August 2007 - May 2011

Home: Education

Official Recognitions

Honorable Mentions

Frank X. Barron Award for Creativity Research


This award, named after notable creativity researcher Frank X. Barron, honors superior research contributions to a psychology of aesthetics, creativity and the arts. My nomination for this award was based on work that was subsequently published in a paper titled:

"Crazy, creative metaphors:

Crazy metaphorical mind?"

Award for Excellence in Teaching


Selected for my positive contributions in teaching classes in cognitive, developmental, clinical and humanistic psychology.

Fulbright US Scholar


Fulbright is described as "the most prestigious international exchange program in the world", supported by the U.S. Congress and by partner nations. The program actively seeks out individuals of achievement and potential who represent the full diversity of their respective societies and selects nominees through open, merit-based competitions. A project on Mother Earth metaphors in rural/indigenous communities was funded through Fulbright. 

Pro Futura Scientia Nomination


It is not possible to apply to the Pro Futura programme. Instead, specific universities and university colleges are invited to nominate up to four researchers per higher education institution. Umeå University nominated me for my research proposal titled, "Turning Twitter green: Shifting behaviors and beliefs in the midst of the climate crisis."

Home: Recognitions

Teaching Skills

Tricks of the Trade

University of California, Santa Cruz

Federal University of Minas Gerais

University of Umeå

San José State University


Home: Skills

"Do not go where the path may lead. Instead, go where there is no path and leave a trail"

Ralph Waldo Emerson

White File Folders
Home: Quote

Let’s Connect

Thanks for submitting!

Laptop Writing
Home: Contact
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